So I finally visited Penang. It’s been an itching wait to check it off my travel bucket list and I’m already planning my next trip back. This is thanks to the lovely driver who ferried us to the airport on our last day – he made us realize there were tonnes of food we hadn’t gotten to try. He was naming dish after dish, most of which we didn’t find time or tummy space to try. It was only a quick three-day getaway after all. But I’ve snagged him as our tour guide / driver / escort for our next trip there – hit me up with anyone’s looking to head up and is considering a friendly local with great insider info.
Confession: I’ve never witnessed boat life on attap houses in the span of my existence.
Of course, I’ve squinted afar into the waters and seen a cluster of stilt houses or two, but I’ve never physically ventured out onto the jetty and walked the planks. So imagine my mountain-tortoise delight when we visited Chew Jetty. The century-old hideout by Weld Quay still houses residents till date, and is the most popular of its six other counterparts. Fun facts: the jetties are all named after their respective surnames: Lim, Chew, Tan, Yeoh, Lee, and Koay, just to list a few.
Walking along the rows of houses, I was able to glance into each home. Every home was very similar to the next – a couch in the middle of the hall, a small satellite TV blaring sounds from the day’s entertainment, a small hallway leading to the back of the house, and an ancestral alter or two. Most residents were preoccupied with the telly and didn’t pay much attention to their passer-bys. I’d imagine they’re very used to such attention and fascination anyway. A couple of the houses had stalls set up outside on their porches and sold knick knacks, souvenir items and even coconut ice-cream. Everything was so still… life seems to move slower on their calm waters.